In a bid to enter the mobile content and applications space, the MTN Group has announced plans to launch an app store later this year that would offer digital music downloads and other value-added services.
TechCentral reports that, Christian De Faria, formerly the vice-president for MTN in West and Central Africa and now the group’s senior vice-president for commercial and innovation, is leading the initiative.
“It’s no longer about selling airtime,” De Faria said, “Now it’s about bundling airtime with products and services. We need to ensure we can offer a range of services, from app stores to music to value-added services like m-health.”
What this means is that MTN is shifting from distributing airtime to becoming a solution provider to its customers.
De Faria further said that MTN would be going into partnership with content providers to offer services such as cloud computing, solutions for small and medium enterprises and to provide rich content in terms of music, gaming, entertainment and news.
This shift in focus would mean that MTN will be in direct competition with Apple’s iTunes Store and Nokia’s Ovi Store, although there are indications that MTN could partner with these platforms.
While I’m not sure what payment system MTN would be adopting for their Appstore, it is likely that mobile payment services such as Mpesa would be used.
It’ll be interesting to see what an MTN-branded app store would look like and if it would change the game in the mobile content and applications space in Africa.
More interesting will be how Globacom, Airtel and Etisalat would respond to MTN’s mobile shift.
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